Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Retail Leaders Still Count on Mailings to Deliver Sales

Any retailer hesitating over the role of direct mail in their marketing mix should read a recent Entrepreneur magazine article that spotlights how much today's retail leaders count on physical mailings for sales success. For example, Costco, which sends 8.6 million magazines per month, reports that 56% of members who receive the magazine buy something based on what they read in it, according to article author Shaun Buck, CEO of The Newsletter Pro. Costco did consider dropping the print version in favor of a digital version to cut costs during the Great Recession--until it found affluent members overwhelmingly preferred a print edition. It's no surprise Costco now projects print circulation growth for the foreseeable future. Williams-Sonoma, parent brand to seven companies including Pottery Barn and West Elm, also considers catalogs "a very, very important part of the marketing strategy,” and 50% of the company’s marketing budget is spent on catalogs each year. Online men's retailer Bonobos, which only entered mailed catalog marketing in 2013, now sees more than 20% of its website’s first-time customers placing orders because they received a catalog in the mail--and spending 1.5 times as much as first-time buyers who did not receive a catalog. Author Buck adds that when The Newsletter Pro is late with its own print newsletter, phone consultations with prospective new customers drop by 25% to 33%! For the complete article, read

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Are Duplicate Fields Hurting Your Database Marketing?

A basic requirement of cost-effective direct marketing is elimination of duplicates, meaning multiple database records for the same person or company account. But marketers today need to watch out for another, trickier duplication challenge: duplicate data fields. Expanding use of multi-channel, multi-sourced data fuels the problem. The same prospect or customer record is often enriched by data from different online and offline sources--data appending services, lead-gen services, list rentals, predictive and lead scoring services, e-mail validation services, call center entries, online ad and social platforms, events, and so on. The marketer may intend to validate, update and unify this data, but efforts are delayed or incomplete for whatever reason. Then the marketer gets ready to launch a campaign and discovers many contact records have two job titles or four industry codes or three e-mail addresses. If the data entries are not clearly dated and sourced, the marketing team has no clue which data are the most up-to-date, accurate and appropriate for targeted promotion! We were pleased to see a recent MarketingProfs article by Ed King, CEO of the data automation firm Openprise, offer cogent advice on avoiding this costly problem. Obviously, marketers should first strive to unify field content promptly while the data is fresh. If data unification must be delayed, new data should be labeled by its source and age for use in future data consolidation decisions. Whether field data unification is immediate or delayed, the marketing team needs to agree on a data-unification logic. King advises that this logic should be based on at least three key factors: source authority (giving priority to trusted data sources); source focus (preferring sources more aligned/specialized for the marketer's industry/target); and age of data (for example, in B2B, more recent contact name or company size is likely to be more accurate). Consistency and scalability are the goals; ad hoc, manual record decisions are not only less efficient but less likely to yield optimal overall results. While unifying data in fields, the database process should also normalize data so formatting and coding are consistent. Plus, a smart database effort can remap field content for better targeting. King provides the example of consolidating 2,000 industry codes into 10 custom definitions that better fit market targets. For the whole article, see

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pairing Mail and Digital Can Max Marketing Power

Digital marketing and traditional direct mail marketing often seem to run on parallel but separate tracks. However, several recent articles show why an intersection of online and offline is a more desirable destination for marketers. Consider a Forbes magazine article by Jenna Gross, CMO of the national direct marketing agency Moving Targets, who explains how her agency combines digital marketing with direct mail to deliver a powerful one-two marketing punch. In her June 1 piece, Gross describes how her agency pairs all direct mail campaigns with digital advertising, using the identical demographic and behavioral data, and leveraging e-mail marketing to boot. As a result "prospects see an ad in their mailbox, inbox and social media feed." Using such "cross-media tactics produces an exponentially better response rate, typically 25% or higher than direct mail alone, based on my agency’s findings," Gross says. Meanwhile, a post by Lewis Gersh, a leader in retargeting and e-commerce, argues that the marriage of digital and direct mail is also an ideal way to deal with the tough problem of cart abandonment and lost digital conversions. Currently, digital marketers spend 10% to 50% of budgets on retargeting efforts, he points out, yet many fail to capture attention in the noisy digital landscape, or fail to even reach the growing number of customers who resort to ad blocking and unsubscribes to escape the digital marketing onslaught. In contrast, direct mail has the advantage of guaranteed arrival and attention as a physical, tangible presence in the home of consumers, where it can be saved and referenced in future and also can be seen by people other than the intended recipient, which is rare for digital media, Gersh points out. So, leverage digital and direct mail advantages to solve the retargeting challenge, he urges: Apply digital's valuable real-time, intent-driven data to direct mail, transforming online activity into mailing of a highly relevant piece that retargets a known site visitor. To read the full Forbes article,